Historic WF railroad depot demolished

Historic WF railroad depot demolished

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - A Wichita Falls railroad depot about 111-years-old is no longer standing after the company who owns it decided to tear it down.

Some say a piece of the city's history went with it.

The building was located at 700 Jefferson Street and owned by Wichita, Tillman & Jackson Railway Co.

Mathew Mattiza, assistant engineer, said it was demolished over the weekend because it was not structurally sound and would cost too much to repair.

Steve Goen, a Wichita Falls author who has written several books about Texas railroad history, wishes the company would have restored it.

"We just don't have a lot of our railroad history left," said Goen. "This town was one of the most important railroad centers in the entire state of Texas, basically thanks to Kemp and Kell."

He said one by one, the city has lost all that.

The former Wichita Falls & Northwestern Railway was built by Joseph Kemp and Frank Kell in 1907 and is now on that list.

"I was really sad about it.  Something like that needed to be saved and preserved," said Goen.

He said the railroad depot was owned by a few companies over the years, like Missouri Kansas Texas Railroad, known as the Katy Depot.

One Goen remembers visiting as a kid.

"I learned early on they had a really great water fountain in that Katy Depot, had some of the coldest water," he said.

He adds they always let him come in.

"As I started taking train pictures and stuff like that, I would go over there, and they knew who I was from early on," Goen said.

The building would also be used by Union Pacific until Wichita Tillman & Jackson Co took over in 1991.

Mattiza said he knows the historical value these buildings hold, but said it was empty for 15 years, too far gone to restore and a fire hazard.

He adds it would have cost way too much to make it safe because the roof was collapsing, walls were bowed out and foundation crumbling.

Still, Goen feels there is more they could have done to keep the city's history alive.

"It wouldn't have been that hard to have gotten a house moving company to come in and lift it up and move it somewhere where it could have been preserved," he said.

Matizza said they did not reach out to the city to see if anyone would like to buy the structure and restore it.

Since the structure was on railroad property, federal law says they do not need a permit from the city to demolish it.

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